Thursday, March 16, 2017

Proposed Trump Cuts To State Program Grants Will Cripple DEP, Cause Drastic Fee Increases

President Trump released his proposed budget blueprint Thursday which confirmed earlier reports of substantial cuts to EPA grants given to states to administer federal programs, eliminating the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes Restoration Programs and discretionary abandoned mine reclamation funding.
While the 53-page blueprint lacks the detail of a complete budget, it outlines the initial positions taken by the Trump Administration on the budget.
The state Department of Environmental Protection receives 30 percent of its funding from the federal government to pay for programs DEP’s administers for the federal government.  
The funding is critical to supporting air quality, water quality, safe drinking water, storage tank, hazardous waste regulation and cleanup, surface mine regulation, mine reclamation and other programs.
These potential federal funding cuts come on top of a 40 percent cut in state General Fund support for DEP over the last 14 years and a now 25 percent cut in its staff.
The cuts proposed in the Trump budget would cripple DEP’s key environmental programs, especially since they are occurring on top of the state cuts.
DEP has had no choice but to raise permit review fees to make up for lost state revenue in the past.  It may not have any choice but to further increase fees on local governments and businesses to make up for this new loss of federal revenue if these programs are to survive.
Here is a quick rundown on the kinds of cuts and funding changes made in Trump’s proposed budget--
EPA Budget
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $5.7 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a cut of $2.6 billion, or 31 percent, from the 2017 annualized CR level.
The EPA cuts include (in the words of the Trump budget document)--
-- Cuts Program Grants To States Up To 44 Percent: Supports Categorical Grants with $597 million, a $482 million reduction below 2017 annualized CR levels. These lower levels are in line with the broader strategy of streamlining environmental protection. This funding level eliminates or substantially reduces Federal investment in State environmental activities that go beyond EPA’s statutory requirements.
-- Eliminates Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes Cleanup: Eliminates funding for special regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay, and other geographic programs. These geographic program eliminations are $427 million lower than the 2017 annualized CR levels. The Budget returns the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to State and local entities, allowing EPA to focus on its highest national priorities.
-- Cuts Superfund: Reins in Superfund administrative costs and emphasizes ef ciency efforts by funding the Hazardous Substance Superfund Account at $762 million, $330 million below the 2017 annualized CR level. The agency would prioritize the use of existing settlement funds to clean up hazardous waste sites and look for ways to remove some of the barriers that have delayed the program’s ability to return sites to the community.
-- Cuts Enforcement: Avoids duplication by concentrating EPA’s enforcement of environmental protection violations on programs that are not delegated to States, while providing oversight to maintain consistency and assistance across State, local, and tribal programs. This reduces EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance budget to $419 million, which is $129 million below the 2017 annualized CR level.
-- Cuts Research: Better targets EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) at a level of approximately $250 million, which would result in a savings of $233 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. ORD would prioritize activities that support decision-making related to core environmental statutory requirements, as opposed to extramural activities, such as providing STAR grants.
-- Eliminates Energy Star, 49 Other EPA Programs: Eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, saving an additional $347 million compared to the 2017 annualized CR level. Lower priority and poorly performing programs and grants are not funded, nor are duplicative functions that can be absorbed into other programs or that are State and local responsibilities. Examples of eliminations in addition to those previously mentioned include: Energy Star; Targeted Airshed Grants; the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program; and infrastructure assistance to Alaska Native Villages and the Mexico Border.
--  Cuts Climate Programs: Discontinues funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts—saving over $100 million for the American taxpayer compared to 2017 annualized CR levels. Consistent with the President’s America First Energy Plan, the Budget reorients EPA’s air program to protect the air we breathe without unduly burdening the American economy.
-- Water Infrastructure: The Budget includes $2.3 billion for the State Revolving Funds, a $4 million increase over the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget also provides $20 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, equal to the funding provided in the 2017 annualized CR. This credit subsidy could potentially support $1 billion in direct Federal loans.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Cuts/funding in the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget include (in the words of the Trump budget document)--
-- Eliminates Rural Water/Wastewater Funding: Eliminates the duplicative Water and Wastewater loan and grant program, a savings of $498 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. Rural communities can be served by private sector  financing or other Federal investments in rural water infrastructure, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s State Revolving Funds.
-- Wildfire Suppression: Fully funds wildland fire preparedness and suppression activities at $2.4 billion, 100 percent of the 10-year average for suppression operations, to ensure the resources necessary to protect life and property.
U.S. Dept. of the Interior
Cuts in the U.S. Department of the Interior budget include (in the words of the Trump budget document)--
-- Eliminates Discretionary Abandoned Mine Reclamation Grants: Eliminates unnecessary, lower priority, or duplicative programs, including discretionary Abandoned Mine Land grants that overlap with existing mandatory grants, National Heritage Areas that are more appropriately funded locally, and National Wildlife Refuge fund payments to local governments that are duplicative of other payment programs.
U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services
Cuts in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services include (in the words of the Trump budget document)--
-- Eliminates LIHEAP: Eliminates the discretionary programs within the Office of Community Services, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), a savings of $4.2 billion from the 2017 annualized CR level. Compared to other income support programs that serve similar populations, LIHEAP is a lower-impact program and is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes. CSBG funds services that are duplicative of other Federal programs, such as emergency food assistance and employment services, and is also a limited-impact program.
Click Here to review a copy of the budget blueprint released by President Trump.
Here Are The Federal Agencies, Programs Trump Wants To Eliminate
Trump’s EPA Cuts Would Endanger Pennsylvanians, DEP Chief Says
Related Stories:
ECOS: President’s Proposed EPA Budget Cuts Will Adversely Affect State Environmental Agencies

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